Mail & Guardian

Rot runs deep in police stations

10 Sep 2010 13:27 | Lynley Donnelly  

Amid a public outcry over allegedly corrupt property deals involving police commissioner Bheki Cele, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, Sindi Chikunga, says there is potential for more financial mismanagement within the police that is being overlooked.

A possible R4-billion, dating back to 2006, may be unaccounted for, according to Chikunga and MP Annelize Van Wyk, who led a task team probing the construction of police stations by the South African Police Service. The team looked at capital and property management dating back to 2006, when the SAPS entered into a deal with the public works department to manage the capital works, development and maintenance of police stations.

According to Chikunga, the committee had become increasingly concerned, following meetings held with the SAPS in January, as well as a parliamentary briefing in May, that the process was being mismanaged by SAPS. Delays in the completion of projects and resultant cost escalations were a red flag.

According to its findings, in the building of the Inanda police station, for instance -- a six-year process -- costs had soared from a budgeted R15,9-million to an actual cost of R43-million. The Ezakheni police station's estimated cost was R10,6-million, compared with an actual cost of R23,9-million. Hebron police station, which began in June 2006, was budgeted at a cost of R14,7-million, but its current cost was R18,6-million and it was not yet complete, she said.

Chikunga said a concern was the use of consultants to complete projects. The average cost of consultants was 18% of a project's budget, but in some projects it was as high as 25%. Another concern was the accuracy of the figures reported to Parliament. The task team's preliminary findings come against the backdrop of allegations and counter-allegations of corruption within the SAPS.

Last week police commissioner Bheki Cele alleged in Parliament that senior staff members were responsible for serious negligence within the property management arm of the SAPS.

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