Unsurprisingly, Medium Term Budget does not prioritise DNA backlog, even though government says crime-fighting is a pillar of economic growth

“Even though the DNA backlog in the country – reportedly – increased by 80 000 instead of declining, the government does not see it as embarrassing enough to up the budget,” said Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society. “The government is very outspoken about acting against gender-based violence, but their priorities change when it comes to practically acting against it.”

The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, today presented the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) or mini-Budget as it is also known, in Parliament. He said: “…crime is a safety, economic, and social issue. A safe environment is important for full participation in economic and social life. This makes fighting crime a key pillar of enhancing economic growth…”.

Clearly, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, cannot properly prioritise or manage his department’s budget. For example, Treasury estimated the Police Services expenditure for 2022/23 at R110,2 billion. However, the Ministry of Police allocated its expenditure for VIP Protection Services for the 2022/23 term at more than R1,7 billion. On the other hand, its estimated expenditure for the NFSL was only R1,4 billion. Minister Godongwana rightly said today about trade-offs: balancing the need to address one priority over another.

Despite having universities and private laboratories offering to assist the National Forensic Laboratory with the backlog, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has not attempted to strike any public-private partnerships to further this end, even though he said he would.

Another problem with allocating funds to end the scourge of gender-based violence is the lack of funds to equip and update Sexual Offences Courts. The Department of Justice indicated to Action Society that the budget to establish 80 sexual offences courts is R50 000 in the financial year 2022/23, not near enough to set up even one such court.

“Our government should start actively spending money where it is needed,” said Cameron. “If they say that gender-based violence is a second pandemic, they should throw as many resources at it as possible and spend them responsibly and effectively.”

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