Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: SEBABATSO MOSAMO/SUNDAY TIMES
Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: SEBABATSO MOSAMO/SUNDAY TIMES

The government spent R8.39m of taxpayers' money to accommodate Deputy President David Mabuza's security personnel in hotels and lodges in just the first six months of the country's Covid-19 lockdown.

The amount includes meals, transport and “incidental costs” for Mabuza's 28 police VIP protection officers, who rotate weekly.

In a written parliamentary reply, police minister Bheki Cele said the accommodation expenses came from the budget of the Presidential Protection Service.

The breakdown of costs shows that between April 1 and September 30:

  • R6,173,743 was spent on accommodating Mabuza's bodyguards;
  • R9,818 on their transport;
  • R883,744 on “incidental” costs; and
  • R1,325,733 was spent on their meals in four establishments.

“The accommodation was used for protection duties,” said Cele.

Police were among the essential services workers who were allowed to work and move around during the hard lockdown.

DA MP Manny de Freitas had asked Cele about amounts spent each month over the past three financial years to accommodate VIP protection officers for the deputy president, and the amount spent since April 1 2020.

He wanted the reasons for accommodating these officers at taxpayers' expense, the accommodation used in each case, names of the people accommodated, other expenditure linked to the accommodation and the items of expenditure in each case.

Cele's response shows that between April 2017 and March 2018, the state spent R8.5m on similar accommodation for then-deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the after financial year — April 2018 to March 2019 — R9.5m was spent. This jumped to R15.8m for the 2019/2020 financial year.

De Freitas described the amounts spent on Mabuza's security as “ridiculous”.

“It's crazy to spent that for one person ... let's rather redirect that money to where we really need it. Why can't they have one or two protectors each?” said De Freitas.

He said, ironically, people only noticed senior politicians because of their extensive security detail.

“We are in difficult financial times and we need to be more circumspect,” he added.

Police are responsible for providing VIP drivers and protectors to members of the executive and pick up the bill for the provision of these services to members of the executive.

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