In 2016, national government paid a whopping R873m for legal services, the bulk of which — R300m — was spent by the SA Police Service. Increasingly, government is in court and, under President Jacob Zuma, the ever-more acrimonious relationship between citizens and the police epitomises the problem. That’s an increase of 161% — or R540m in round numbers — since the beginning of Zuma’s administration. Inflation and the high price of legal fees, for advocates in particular, mean that legal costs will inevitably rise year-on-year. But these increases generally tend to far outstrip inflation. The police are at the heart of the problem. They are responsible, on average, for about 30% of all legal services costs. Like other departments, they hiked expenditure on this front — only, the totals are enormous. In 2009/2010, the police spent R89m on legal costs. By 2015/2016, that number stood at R293m — an increase of 228% over six years. And that’s actually better than the year before, when it...

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