Murder is a trauma felt by many families, including my own

The following speech was delivered by DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on murder in the National Assembly today.
We welcome this opportunity for Parliament to debate the scourge of murder affecting all South Africans on a daily basis, a motion proposed by the DA following last week’s release of the annual crime statistics which showed that violent and organised crimes continue to increase. This ongoing trend is a reflection of police ineffectiveness under the ANC and has brought the crisis of rampant criminality once more to the fore of the public mind.
The recent crime statistics showed that all South Africans, irrespective of race or background, can become a target of violent crime. Every South African knows the feeling of fearing for their life and the lives of their loved ones. Women and children are the most vulnerable, often being the targets of horrific rapes and a shocking seven women and children are murdered every day.
This is a trauma and tragedy that has been known and felt by many families, including my own. In about 2 weeks, on the 15th of November, it will mark 7 years since my mother was brutally murdered with multiple stab wounds, the result of a labour dispute gone horribly wrong with her gardener, at least based on what was revealed during court testimony of the accused who pleaded guilty and received the maximum sentence for murder.
In our case, we were luckier than most in that the suspect was apprehended within days and we were able to gain closure because justice was done, notwithstanding the year-long delay in the scheduling of the case at the Regional Court because it took that long for the DNA test results to come back from the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).
The issues of processing backlogs, lack of capacity and inefficient administration in the FSL environment affect the lives of people already in a traumatised state in very real ways. At this juncture, I must pay tribute to the investigating officer in my mother’s murder’s case, Warrant Officer Jaco Wentzel of the Deneysville SAPS, who was a laudable help in providing regular feedback and progress updates to our family, despite the hindrances that plagued the system.
Now I know that the ANC may come up to this podium and talk about how South Africa has always been a violent society, that centuries of violence have been perpetrated against communities through imperialism, colonialism and apartheid and that cycles of violence perpetrate themselves as a legacy of our oppressive past.
We do not deny or negate the role of history and how its effects play out in contemporary patterns of social dysfunction. However, this reasoning surely loses its potency as time goes by. No one can reasonably expect centuries of that history to be undone or reversed in 23 years but we can reasonably expect to have made faster progress than we have under the ANC. As a country, we should have been further along and should have minimised the intensification of the problem, as has become the case in many contexts.
Were it not for the cronyism, corruption and state capture that has come to define ANC misgovernance, starting with the Arms Deal in the late 1990s and culminating in the Zupta saga revelations and politically motivated manipulation at state owned enterprises, we could have ensured that more poor and economically marginalised citizens were better provided for, had access to more jobs through inclusive economic growth and enjoyed more opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.
Had the ANC governed and delivered as it promised and South Africa been able to realise more of its potential, we would have had better prospects to repair our damaged social fabric which gives fertile context for domestic and interpersonal violence, rather than having seen a continued and exacerbated fraying of the social fabric. Had the ANC governed and delivered as it promised, perhaps a labour dispute would not be escalated by a desperation and despair over scarce economic resources into a murder.
Thus the scourge of violence in South Africa is a damning indictment on the ANC government.
Even with the social fabric issues aside, the fact is that violent and organised crime in South Africa has been a growing contributing factor to the epidemic of murder and has long reached crisis point. Sadly, the SAPS has been losing the fight, in large part, a direct result of the chronic under-training, under-staffing, under-resourcing and under-equipping of the Police Service (the four U’s), combined with crime intelligence-in-crisis and detectives-in-distress, meaning that the SAPS is unable to tackle organised crime and the syndicates who drive it and lack a strong, skilled investigative capacity to ensure high detection and conviction rates.
The four U’s, combined with poor leadership, low professionalism and weak accountability in the police service all mean that the SAPS is unable to get a grip on and successfully bring crime down.
Enough is enough, genoeg is genoeg, kwanele kwanele. We need to take our country back from the criminals that are crippling our society with fear and the criminals who have hampered and hollowed out the capability of the criminal justice system to bring them to book.
The fundamental problem we face as a country in effectively tackling and reducing the murder epidemic and the criminality that feeds into it is a lack of political will within the ANC national government to do the things that are required to turn the police service around to make it an effective crime-fighting organisation.
We can no longer rely on the ANC to fix the problem. The hope for the reduction of unemployment, poverty and crime, resulting in safe streets and safe homes, lies only in a post-ANC South Africa. As the DA, we are committed to seeing violent crime being rooted out of our communities and the realisation of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all. We stand with every South African who has been a victim of crime.
The only solution so that we stand a chance of having an effective police service and a more prosperous nation is for the ANC to be voted out of power and for a DA-led government to be elected in 2019 that will have the political will to fix the fundamentals in the police and grow the economy for the benefit of all the people.