South Africa boosted its 2021/22 VIP protection budget by R26.3 million, not R1.7 billion

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A post shared in South Africa on Twitter and Facebook claims that the budget for the protection of senior government officials, including the president, has been increased by 1.7 billion rands ($118.9 million) for the financial year 2021/22. But the claim is false: the South African police budget presented in parliament on May 20, 2021, shows that the amount was boosted by R26.3 million ($1.9 million) from R1,689.7 billion in 2020 to R1,716.0 billion for this year. 

The post was published on Twitter on May 21, 2021, and has been retweeted more than 1,400 times since.

A screenshot of the misleading tweet, taken on June 18, 2021

The post was also shared here and here on Facebook in May 2021.

South African police minister Bheki Cele presented the annual police budget to parliament on May 20, 2021. 

The minister told lawmakers that the cabinet approved a budget cut of R3.4 billion ($237 million) for general crime-fighting.

But the claim that the VIP budget has been increased by R1.7 billion is misleading.

According to the document presented by the minister, the total budget for protection and security services - which includes the VIP protection unit -  totals up to R1.7 billion.

According to Cele, the budget cuts were cut due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country on March 5, 2020, South Africa has recorded more than 1.8 million cases and 58,590 deaths.

Actual budget figures 

The police budget document shows that the VIP protection budget was increased by R26.3 million ($1.9 million) from R1,689.7 billion during the financial year 2020/21 to R1,716.0 billion in 2021/22.

Screenshot of the page containing VIP protection services budget on the police budget document

The police budget in South Africa is separated into five different programs: protection and security services, administration, visible policing, crime intelligence, and detective services.

The VIP protection services fall under the protection and security services program and are used to provide protection to the president, deputy president, retired presidents and their spouses.

AFP Fact Check reached out to the police minister’s office for a comment but is yet to get a response. We will update the article if we receive an answer.