A reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question has revealed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) purchased a Cessna Citation Sovereign private business jet, at a cost of R150 million, to usher cabinet ministers and senior officials around South Africa and Africa. This is a disgraceful waste of public money. We have a national carrier and an Airforce, and given the array of serious resourcing problems facing the Police, it is unthinkable that such an enormous amount of money would be frittered away on a private jet. A copy of the reply is available upon request. The reply states that the plane has so far been used, amongst other things, for:
• Transporting VIP protection service advance teams to countries in Africa;
• Transporting the task team responsible for the establishment of the DPCI;
• Transporting top SAPS management to Parliament;
• Transporting SAPS members with specialised skills to venues during major events;
• Operational visits to Provinces; and
• Visits to SAPS deployments in Africa
The money spent on acquiring this plane, and indeed on running costs, could have been much better served tackling any one of a number of serious problems within the cash-strapped SAPS. For instance, R150-million could pay for 46,627 new bullet proof vests. The Police Ministry's self-aggrandising, lavish hotel stays and brand new luxury vehicle have already made a mockery of any claims that they are serious about tackling the spiralling crime rate, but the purchase of a private jet is on another level of indulgence entirely. The DA will be following this up with questions to monitor the ongoing maintenance and running costs of this jet, and the purposes for which it is used. We will also ask every other government department whether they have purchased their own aeroplanes.