The following remarks were delivered by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police, Dianne Kohler Barnard MP, during the debate on murder in the National Assembly today.
Why are we as a nation no longer outraged by murder?
At the very moment South Africans were protesting yesterday, two farmers were murdered. One in Deneysville, brutally beaten and then shot nine times. His 12 year old son, also terribly beaten, has survived. And yet another farmer was murdered on a farm in Vryheid. Statistics show us that these are likely to be only the tip of the iceberg – 50 more people from our townships to our suburbs, from our farms to our cities, throughout our country, might have met their end in a gruesome murder yesterday, and 52 more will lose their lives today.
Yet the deaths of these 52 South Africans will remain virtually unremarked. Such as, for example, Andrew and Loryn Monakane. The Monakane’s were brutally murdered on their farm Graigmont, near Dewetsdorp in the Free State. He was shot dead, probably not before she was gang raped, but certainly before she was shot in the face. She died the next day.
This attack on two upcoming black farmers slipped by barely making a blip on the radar and from the media’s side there seemed to be little interest. Shortly before their murder another black farmer from the Eastern Cape and his housekeeper were also murdered. No one here knows about it.
Rural areas today are beyond unsafe and the refusal or inability of the police to institute proper rural security measures not only aggravates the situation but has led to the extraordinary pressure-cooker gatherings around the country yesterday during the Black Monday protests.
But of course farmers are by no means the only victims of this terrible violent scourge.
So: 52 murders a day – our babies, our children, our teenagers, our husbands, our wives, our mothers, our fathers.
109 of them are raped each and every day, often before being murdered. 46 of them are hijacked each day, often before being raped and then murdered.
Our police are not even close to getting a grip on violent crime, despite a budget that has been increased by almost 50% since 2011/12 to R87 billion.
How did we become a nation where, the Minister tells me, child murders in South Africa increased 14.5%, totalling a truly appalling 969 cases in a single year? Three children murdered daily. What is worse is that this was a question put to various former Ministers of Police from 2014, and it wasn’t deemed important enough to answer until three years later.
How is it possible that there is such a damning lack of urgency shown by the government in tackling the scourge of child murders? The DA has been trying to pin down statistics for child homicide rates in South Africa for the past ten years, but have been frustrated by a government that is either unwilling to address the crisis, embarrassed by it or indifferent to it.
And how are our children dying? Mainly they are stabbed to death. Alternatively they are shot, cut, beaten to death by bare hands, by sticks, by stones and bricks, strangled with string or wire, poisoned, or kicked to death. You get the idea.
This is the reality our South African babies face from the moment they are born and this is the news every Mother dreads hearing. That this is what has happened to their baby. Inconceivable but it happens.
These gruesome statistics serve as clear evidence that this government is failing our children, is failing us.
It is a societal problem. Parents are perhaps only too keen to be hands-off, to leave even the most basic training to the schools where our children are increasingly at risk as teachers could hold one of our daughters down and gang rape her. Inconceivable but it happens.
The problem is, such is the fear and sometimes even loathing of our SAPS, that people run from them when they should run to them. Sadly, when they do run to them, they have no vehicles, or no drivers’ licences, or no staff. Or they demand money.
So fewer and fewer South Africans bother to report crimes to the SAPS. This makes the annual crime statistics look good if nothing else. If they are able to afford it, citizens pay for Private Security, and endless beams and alarms and bulletproof doors. If they can’t, they don’t sleep at night but lie awake terrified as shots ring out in the streets.
The damage done by Jacki Selebi, who shut down all specialised units, saw all experts in child-related crimes dumped from the FCS units, to areas where their expertise wasn’t wanted or needed.
Finally, in the face of plummeting conviction rates, some Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units were reopened but remain ‘Cinderella Units’, under-staffed and under-resourced, and there simply are not enough of them.
And of course, effective policing cannot be realised while many stations still do not have victim-friendly rooms and rape test kits.
Because of the disaster that is the SAPS Crime Intelligence, sex trafficking syndicates and the stealing of our young girls will not be stopped and drug Lords remain free to lead our children into their dark and terrible lives.
Because of the disaster that is the SAPS laboratory based in bits and pieces of Amanzimtoti, with 456 drug-related samples swept out to sea in a flood, criminals are laughing all the way home. This laboratory is, or was, housed by Public Works in what is today a slum building that has been flooded four times.
Thousands of samples must now be shifted along with 120 staff to the other three national labs, at massive expense.
And the SAPS wonder why the citizens of South Africa don’t put them on the sort of pedestal they stand on in countries like Germany or France.
We have had three failed NPCs, one acting NPC, suspended, and a second on the way out, I gather. Are we to wait until the ANC congress before another political appointment is made or will we finally see someone brought in who won’t steal, spend money like water, oversee another Marikana, or involve his or herself in internal politics?
We need the highest possible qualifications wrapped around a spine of steel. If we’re given another unqualified, unsuitable Commissioner, we may yet see our daily murder rate reach 60 a day.