A total amount of R1.1 million has been spent on security upgrades at the private residences of the Gauteng Premier and his MECs over the past three years.

This is disclosed by Premier David Makhura in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Makhura, the Ministerial Handbook provides guidelines for the security costs for private houses after a security assessment has been done.

The cost for security upgrades was fixed by Cabinet at R100 000 in June 2003, with provision to account for inflation, which now amounts to about R200 000.

Makhura says that he has ordered that any MEC whose private residence security upgrades have exceeded R200 000 should pay the difference.

Security for his own residence has cost R71 229, and nothing has been spent on upgrades at the houses of four MECs in this term of office because was already done in a previous term – this is the case for Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile, Finance MEC Barbara Creecy and Cooperative Government MEC Paul Mashatile.

The big spenders were former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu (R252 558), former Sports, Arts & Recreation MEC Molebatsi Bopape (R230 190), Education MEC Panyasa Lesufi (R200 000) and Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Molebane (R149 536).

Most of the costs were incurred on the upgrade of perimeter fences, security gates and cameras.

But MEC Lebogang Maile has a security guard assigned to his private residence “as part of the general security contract for guarding the department’s buildings.”

Makhura explains the extra cost for security at Mahlangu’s house as arising from a threat and risk assessment done by the police before 2014. Her security was improved, including guarding services, and this cost R251 558 for the period May 2014 to February 2017, which amounted to R8000 a month.

Makhura says that “any decision about placing static security at any MEC’s private residence will now be subject to approval by the Premier, on the basis of the recommendation of SAPS. All these measures will ensure that there is no abuse or unnecessary spending on security.”

I welcome Makhura’s commitment to stamp out abuse in this area, which indicates that there has been unjustified security spending in the past.

According to Makhura “there were loopholes with regard to expenditure cap on security because departments were instructed to pay whatever was in accordance with the recommended security upgrades, regardless of the cost.”

We all face the risk of crime, and the state should only pay for extra protection for politicians if it is related to their work and justified by an objective police assessment.

I will be asking further questions concerning whether former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu paid the extra R51 558 which exceeded the R200 000 limit, and why MEC Maile has a security guard at his house paid for by a general security contract.