Pretoria - Government must give tax rebates to citizens who pay for their own private security, trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday.
Due to government's failure to safeguard them against crime, South Africans now invested heavily in security, while at the same time paying tax for the service, Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann told reporters in Pretoria.
"Government simply fails in protecting citizens, which is its constitutional obligation. Now, there is double taxation because they (citizens) have to make provision to protect themselves. That is simply not fair."
Hermann was speaking at the launch of Solidarity's "Give it Back" campaign, which calls for tax rebates and for police to focus largely on areas where citizens could not afford to pay for private security.
"South Africans are maintaining a private security industry of more than 400 000 active security officers. [They] outnumber... police officers by almost three to one. That shows the big investment by the civil environment to the safety of South Africa."
Hermann said the number of registered private security companies had almost doubled between 2001 and 2011. South Africans relied on more than 9 000 registered private security companies to protect them from crime.
"A taxpayer who earns around R300 000 per year, will pay around R83 000 in income tax. That tax is supposed to finance his/her security, but now he/she has to pay an additional R10 400 for additional measures of protection."
The principle of tax relief for citizens with private medical care should also apply to safety and security.
"Government cannot claim responsibility for that person (with private medical care) and then he/she gets a tax alleviation. Government needs to help the average taxpayer to have more in his pocket (to enable him) to protect himself," he said.
The campaign was intended to pressure Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to address the issue in this year's budget speech.
"For the next two weeks, you will see several kinds of action to put pressure on government," Hermann said.
"The more civil society takes over that role (of security in certain areas) and the more you (government) enable them (citizens) through rebates, the more capacity the police will have to do their work, especially in rural areas," he said.
The campaign would make use of social and other forms of media. It also had a website, www.giveitbackcampaign.co.za.
According to a report by the Solidarity Research Institute, released on Wednesday, the SA Police Service in January 2013, had 156 076 officers, which equated to about 302 officers per 100 000 people in the country.
Given the "evident inability" of the South African public order and safety system to provide a reasonably crime-free environment, citizens had no option but to implement additional security measures.
"The average taxpayer in a metropolitan area could very well pay, apart from his or her tax, another R869 50 per month, or R10 423 annually, to protect his or her person and family in a way the state should."
According to the report, a reputable security company in Pretoria's Centurion area charged R377 50 a month for its 24-hour monitoring and response services.
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