Poorly trained police officers cost you R2,2 billion in civil claims


The Democratic Alliance has revealed that the South African Police Service has already paid out more than R2.2 billion in civil claims for unfair arrests and detentions since 2018.

The Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, in response to a parliamentary question, revealed that under his management in the past financial year the SAPS paid compensation in civil claims equivalent to more than its entire budget for forensic laboratories, almost a third of its budget for crime intelligence and almost a quarter of the budget allocated to border security.

“In fact, the SAPS has seen a 52% increase in civil claims over five financial years. This corresponds to the term of office of Minister Cele,” says Andrew Whitfield, the DA’s shadow minister for police. This extends from more than R356.2 million in 2018/2019 to more than R541.7 million in 2022/2023.

“To make matters worse, it appears that agreements in the past three quarters of 2023/2024 have already achieved R406 million. To put these numbers in perspective: Since 2018, this amounts to spending more than R1 million every single day.”

Whitfield says it is very clear that the minister is running a SAPS which has never had so little staff, money or training.

A deficient reservist division has 93.3% fewer personnel than a decade ago. There is a critical shortage of detectives nationwide. Police response times leave citizens stranded and helpless. In the operational personnel component, there are fewer police officers than in 2019. “This is the minister’s legacy, or lack thereof.”

Whitfield says the numbers are not only proof of a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money intended for real policing, but shed light on the danger of the rot that started at the top and worked its way down. “South Africans are not even safe with the police who are supposed to protect them.”

Whitfield says the DA-led government will re-compete the SAPS, bring back discipline and strengthen the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPOD) to quickly deal with police officers who offend. “The DA will get rid of bloated senior management and make sure a merit-based system is introduced for promotion and appointments. The DA can save South Africans by halving the crime rate and building a safer South Africa for everyone.”