Fifteen percent more for dying Scorpions

Despite the Scorpions’ imminent incorporation into the South African Police Service (SAPS), the 2008/09 budget of the Justice and Constitutional Development Department makes provision for spending R429-million on the crime fighting unit this year.

That is 15% more than last year’s budget of R373-million.

It remains to be seen whether the Scorpions’ budget will be transferred to the SAPS after the necessary legislation affecting the future of the unit has been finalised.

Trevor Manuel’s budget lived up to the promise made by President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation address on the revamping of the criminal justice system, says Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

Manuel pledged R10-billion over the next three years for the fight against crime, the improvement of correctional facilities and building the overall capacity of the administration of justice.

Burger says it is not often he has a chance to be an optimist and particularly lauded the R250-million allocation for the improvement of the equipment in the “burning issue” of the police’s forensic laboratories. This would help alleviate the backlog of cases.

Manuel also announced an expansion in the number of police officers to 200 000 by 2011 and the allocation of R1,3-billion towards the improvement of the ICT infrastructure of the police.

The Department of Correctional Services is planning to spend 33% of its R11-billion budget for the 2008/09 financial year on security. That amounts to R3,8-billion.

Only 3% of the budget (R396-million) will be spend on developmental programmes such as technical training, recreation, sport and education.

Funding for new prisons is back on the books. Delays in the delivery of new-generation prisons resulted in funding being suspended in 2006/07.

R316-million will be spent on the new Kimberley prison this year, while provision is made in the 2010/11 budget to operate the five new public-private partnership prisons that are still out to tender.

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