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DA mayoral candidate proposes devolution of R1bn VIP protection budget to metros

DA mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, says he will submit a plan to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to devolve the R1.7 billion VIP funding to competent municipalities.

“In my capacity as shadow minister for finance in the National Assembly, I am very proud today to submit a formal proposal to finance minister to devolve some of police’s VIP budget down to competent local municipalities and cities, particularly the City of Cape Town so that we can expand our law enforcement and policing operations,” Hill-Lewis said.

He made the statement when he announced the plan to devolve the policing funding when addressing the media in front of the National Assembly in Parliament.

SAPS has a R1.7bn budget for the protection services for VIPs in the current financial year.

According to the DA analysis, taxpayers spend R8 million on bodyguards, weapons and equipment for each of the 209 so-called VIPs receiving personal protection.

“This is outrage when communities do not feel safe and police resources are withdrawn from those communities because of the so-called budget cuts,” Hill-Lewis said.

“We are proposing today to slash that budget and to take R1bn of VIP budget and send it to competently-run metros like the City of Cape Town so that we can run a pilot for expansion of local policing powers so that overtime we can relocate policing powers from national-level down to the city-level.

“This is the great opportunity to use this money, which is badly used to fund this pilot project.”

Hill-Lewis also said that the City of Cape Town was willing and ready to undertake the pilot project because it has already massively increased the law enforcement resources.

“This is a chance to go further and do more by establishing the National Fund to fund local policing,” he said.

According to Hill-Lewis, the R1.5bn Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP), jointly funded and managed by the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town, was the first step in devolving the policing function.

“Ours is a vision of the future where residents in need call on well-trained and equipped officers from their local Cape Town Police Service (CTPS) who understand the needs of Capetonians and who have all the powers and funding they need to independently prevent, combat, investigate and solve crime.”

He charged that SAPS simply did not have the capacity to keep Capetonians safe despite there were still many excellent and hard-working officers.

According to Hill-Lewis, the City of Cape Town was entitled to 14.4% of the total equitable share funding made available to all eight metros.

“Using that same breakdown, I have requested that the National Treasury begin annually transferring R144 million of the R1bn redirected from the SAPS VIP protection budget to Cape Town for us to launch a pilot project to take over more policing functions from SAPS,” he said.

Hill-Lewis explained that the initial funding could be used to establish the city’s own forensic laboratory and fund more boots on the ground.

The funding could also conduct pilot research at individual police stations where the power to determine budget priorities and reporting lines was moved from the national minister of police to the Cape Town City Council.

He also said if the war against crime was to be won, there was a need to fundamentally change the way policing was done by devolving power and funding away from the failing national government.

“There is no better place to pilot this revolutionary new approach to policing than right here in DA-led Cape Town, where our LEAP project has already led to the deployment of over 1 000 additional law enforcers.”

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