Even when the ANC Elective Conference is dominating headlines, the Sunday Times still managed to find some separate story to break. This time, it’s about the South African Police Service purchasing possibly the most expensive bulletproof vests in the world.

The report states that R6.7 million was spent on 200 hi-tech lightweight vests for ballistics testing. An additional order for R33 million worth of bests from Indian manufacturer MKU could be in the works too.

The vests reportedly cost R33,402 per vest and a ”significant slice” of that money went to a Durban businessman who was involved with arranging the deal. To make matters worse, the contract was awarded without a tender being put out. The Institute for Security Studies’ Johan Burger has described the cost as “ridiculous”.

The current bulletproof vests used by SAPS cost no more than R8, 000 each. The current vests do weigh in at a much heavier 8.2kg. The new vests weigh almost half that at just 4.2kg.

The report states that the auditor-general could possibly deem the costs of these vests as irregular expenditure. Such a move would hoist SAPS and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula back into the negative spotlight.

This isn’t the first cost controversy facing SAPS though, just a few weeks ago, there was further outcry around millions spent on torches.

The Democratic Alliance released a statement at the start of November expressing their fury over SAPS spending from the 2015/16 financial year. The statement came after media reports revealed the South African Police Service (SAPS) paid a company a ridiculous amount for police torches.

The reports claimed SAPS paid Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) over R52 million for just 169 torches. This amounts to R300 000 paid per torch.

Outcry as report reveals SAPS spent R53 million on 169 torches for officers

Let’s hope these vest and torches are the best the world has ever seen…

  • TA