South Africa looting police cost
(Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)
  • The South African Police Service estimates that it will cost R350 million to “stabilise” the country amid violent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • This, along with deployment and strategic objectives to combat looting, was revealed to parliament’s portfolio committee on police on Friday.
  • Additional expenses include overtime pay, meal allowances, accommodation, and petrol.
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It’s going to cost the South African government around R350 million to stop the violent civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, according to a provisional expenditure report tabled by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Protests which emanated from former President Jacob Zuma’s arrest quickly spiralled out of control on 12 July. What followed was a week of riotous looting, typified by burning shopping malls, the shutdown of critical industries and the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

By Friday, the confirmed death toll had risen to 117 with many more injured. More than 2,000 people have been arrested. Areas in Gauteng and Durban have been starved of food and fuel supplies, some of which has been blamed on panic buying as delivery trucks only start to recover from a week of blocked routes.

Although the unrest appears to be subsiding, particularly in Gauteng, additional SANDF troops and SAPS personnel remain on high alert.

While the cost to businesses and South Africa’s economy is still being counted, SAPS has already put a provisional figure on its additional deployment expenses. A presentation delivered by SAPS to parliament’s portfolio committee on police on Friday morning – specially convened to provide updates of the response to the unrest – highlighted the magnitude of the deployment on the additional costs associated with “stabilisation” efforts.

More than 4,500 uniformed police officers – almost half of the total number of personnel deployed daily throughout South Africa – are operating in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to return order, according to the SAPS presentation. This force is bolstered by the deployment of additional SANDF, metro and traffic enforcement resources. A total of 2,245 SAPS Reservists are also available for deployment in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The deployment strategy focuses on protecting critical infrastructure, like airports, harbours, highways, malls, hospitals, warehouses, factories, liquor outlets, and firearm dealers.

These additional deployments and 24-hour surveillance strategy come at a cost. SAPS estimates this to be in the region of R350 million which will cover:

  • All inclusive overtime allowance
  • Night shift / Service allowances
  • Remuneration of reservists being called-up
  • Meal allowances when deployed away from the normal place of work
  • Accommodation and incidental allowance when being accommodated
  • Additional resources to be procured when needed

Indirect additional expenditure has been allocated to fleet management which includes increased petrol consumption and maintenance of police vehicles. More needs to be spent on additional ammunition, water cannon items, and barb wire.

SAPS hopes to fund these additional costs by reprioritising its own budget. The National Treasury will also be approached for rerouting funds in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, Treasury Regulations or Appropriation Act.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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