The Secretariat of Police,a civilian body meant to oversee the South African Police Service (SAPS), spent close to R50 000 changing is name when the safety and security establishment was renamed by President Jacob Zuma last May.
The police ministry in answer to a parliamentary question says the secretariat spent R49 451.80 to change its name from “Secretariat for Safety and Security” to “Secretariat of Police”.
In order to save costs the police ministry added the secretariat would continue to use old folders, writing pads and the like for internal usage.
The ministry could not say how much it would cost to rename the SAPS from a “service” to a “force”, saying the “matter is still under discussion and no reply/comment can be given until a decision has been taken.”
Deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula late last year said he wanted the police service transformed into a paramilitary force, with military ranks and discipline.
Former education and water minister Kader Asmal, a long-time human rights activist, criticised the move at the time, sparking a furious public row with Mbalula.
“He said we must militarise the police. We spent days and days in 1991 to get away from the idea of a militarised police force. Extraordinary,” Asmal said of the move.
“This is a kind of craziness all of us have to take into account. It is part of that low-level political decision-making without reference to the Cabinet.”
Mbalula argued that criminals had no respect for the police service and that the public confused police inspectors with bus inspectors and superintendents with medical staff. Both ranks are however in widespread international police use, especially in the Commonwealth.
The deputy minister added there was “nothing crazy” about building a better police force and accused Asmal of being sensationally alarmist.