Revealing Zuma's protection bill a 'security risk' - Bheki Cele

23 January 2019 - 12:54 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
Police minister Bheki Cele has refused to detail how much it cost to protect former president Jacob Zuma.
Police minister Bheki Cele has refused to detail how much it cost to protect former president Jacob Zuma.

Police minister Bheki Cele has refused to say how much it has cost taxpayers to protect former president Jacob Zuma since his departure from office, arguing that publicising such information may compromise Zuma's security.

Cele was responding to a parliamentary question from DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.

The minister explained that the money spent on protection duties was based on travelling, accommodation and subsistence allowances for Zuma's presidential protection members.

"The amount spent specifically on protection duties to the former president cannot be disclosed, as it may pose a security risk," he said.

Cele would also not divulge the purpose of Zuma's trips, saying that may also pose a security risk.

President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed days ago that the state had paid just under R1m towards Zuma's flights and cellphone costs, including the accommodation and car rental costs of his spouses and support staff, since his resignation as president.

Ramaphosa said that, as with all former presidents, Zuma was entitled to certain benefits, as outlined in the policy on the benefits of executive office. 

In response to a question from DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, Cele gave a detailed breakdown of how much it had cost the state to protect EFF leader Julius Malema.

Kohler Barnard did not publicly name Malema in her question but confirmed to TimesLIVE that she had wanted the financial details of Malema's VIP protection so far.

Cele revealed that Malema had been enjoying state-sponsored security since May 2018 to the tune of R315,823, as at the end of October. He also revealed that the decision to protect Malema followed a threat and risk assessment.

"A direct threat exists against the principal," said Cele, responding to a question about the recommendations of the threat assessment. He declined Kohler Barnard's request for him to make available the threat assessment report, saying the information was classified as confidential.

He would also not say how many VIP police or vehicles were involved in Malema's security detail.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told TimesLIVE in November that the party had on many occasions spoken about threats against its leader, who is also an MP.

"The police made their independent assessments and arrived at the same conclusion as we did. That is, his life is under threat," Ndlozi said at the time.