Why does the government turn a blind eye to farm murders?

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Anette Steyn MP, during the debate on farm murders.
We are today participating in a debate to discuss murder. Murder is the unlawful and intentional killing of another human being! South Africa has a shocking murder rate. During 2015/16, 18 673 murders were recorded, it is an average of 51.2 murders per day. We have become so accustomed to this that we don’t even blink an eye anymore when someone is murdered.
Voorsitter, plaasmoorde le my na aan die hart. Ek is ‘n gebore plaasmeisie en weet hoe dit voel om by die plaashek in te ry en te wonder of daar dalk onwelkome gaste op my wag. Ek weet hoe dit voel om in die nag wakker te word as ek vreemde geluide hoor en om dan stil in die donker op te staan en versigtig deur die huis te beweeg om seker te maak dat alles buite nog reg is. Ek vrees elke dag dat iemand na aan my en waarvoor ek lief is op ‘n plaas vermoor kan word.
Wat ek nie weet nie, is hoe dit voel om te hoor dat een van jou geliefdes of werkers in ‘n plaasmoord gesterf het. Terwyl moord in ons land buite beheer is, kan niemand hier vandag se dat hul nie bewus is van die gruwelmoorde wat op Suid Afrikaanse plase plaasvind nie.
Chairperson, we may disagree with the reasons for these murders, some may say it is because farmers mistreat their workers or because “they stole our land” but we have to agree that the torture of any person by another is inhumane and barbaric. This year alone we have seen more than 70 attacks resulting in at least 20 murders.
Let me tell you about three of these attacks:
• On 13 January this year, 69 year old Mrs Kidson was killed while recovering from a hip operation and sitting in a wheelchair. Mrs Kidson was repeatedly stabbed with a sharp object and then her throat was slit. Her husband was also found with his throat slit.
• Op 22 Februarie het Sue Howarth na twee dae in die intensiewesorg eenheid die stryd gewonne gegee. Sue het ‘n gruweldood gesterf, haar liggaam was vol meswonde, haar borste was gebrand en haar oe was toegeswel. Net om seker te maak dat sy wel doodgaan het die aanvallers ‘n swartsak in haar keel gedruk en haar toe ook nog in die kop geskiet.
• This past weekend the 62 year old Nicci Simpson was tied to a chair and tortured with an electrical drill, drilling holes in her feet, legs and knees. Her ribs were broken and she was stabbed multiple times. Luckily she survived this horrific attack.
How is it possible that even one person could get burned with hot water, an iron, dripping plastic, a blow torch, slaughtered like an animal and no-one says a word?
Why are we quiet when it comes to crimes affecting farming and rural communities, could I assume that we are quiet because these victims are farmers?
Hierdie aanvalle is nie slegs teen boere nie, plaaswerkers word ook hierdeur geraak. Inligting versamel deur Vrystaat Landbou wys dat daar reeds 12 aanvalle hierdie jaar in die Vrystaat plaasgevind het, in 7 gevalle was dit teen plaaswerkers gerig. Op Saterdag 11 Maart is twee werkers naby Kroonstad deur 10 rowers aangeval en aangerand.
Crime and violence is affecting and is dehumanising all people in farming and rural communities, irrespective of their race.
Why then does the government turn a blind eye to this? Why does the government refuse to take decisive action to protect its farming and rural communities?
Instead, what we have seen is political leaders using rhetoric that only serves to incite hate and more violence. The president sings “bring back my machine gun” while people are murdered by gangs using machine guns. Others tell their followers to invade land illegally, while singing “one settler, one bullet”.
We cannot allow this to spiral into racial hatred and for us to divide our people along racial lines. We have to stand up and condemn all murders. It cannot be allowed that a person is tortured over two days and no one says a word. It cannot be allowed for a person to shoot someone and then say, “I thought it was a monkey”.
We must take collective responsibility for our divided country by ensuring that all our citizens feel safe and secure.
Ek het die afgelope maand na Mpumalanga, KZN, Gauteng en die Vrystaat gereis om met boere oor landelike veiligheid te praat. Die Demokratiese Alliansie stel die volgende voor:
• Farm attacks must be classified as priority crime in order for more resources to be allocated to Rural Safety Units, currently SAPS is under-resourced and the rural safety Strategy is not properly implemented.
• It is important for attacks to be classified as a separate category of crime for statistical purposes going forward. This classification must include farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers. It must be linked to specific research into safety and security in order to establish whether murder and attacks on farms are more violent in nature and what the reasons is for this.
• Crime intelligence must be involved in order to see if a link exists between farm attacks where criminals are looking for weapons and other syndicate related crimes in South Africa. Farm attacks are well planned and executed and cannot be purely seen as normal crime anymore.
• The reservist programme in rural areas must be properly implemented with a concerted effort to recruit and train farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers. The current requirements to become reservists is seen as a stumbling block.
• Trauma support must be offered to victims and their families in order to deal with this horrific reality.
Chairperson, this is a fundamental human rights issue and people living on farms must be treated equally in this regard. The ANC should not show less care to a particular group of people based on race.
Condemnation of attacks should come from government and stereotyping of farmers must stop.
The Democratic Alliance would like to offer its condolences to all people who have lost their lives in our violent South Africa.

Social Grants Crisis: 28 days and counting since DA called for dodging Dlamini to be fired

It has been 28 days since the DA called on President Zuma to fire the Social Development Minister over her inexcusable mismanagement of the social grants crisis and still no action has been taken to hold her accountable for putting the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.
Since then it has emerged that:
• SASSA has failed to answer questions put to them by the Constitutional Court regarding social grants and the CPS contract;
• SASSA knew they would not be ready to take over the distribution of social grants as far back as April 2016, a full year ago;
• Dlamini has taken every opportunity to block any alternative options that do not involve CPS;
• Three different legal opinions, which stated that SASSA should approach the Constitutional court, were ignored by Dlamini;
• The President’s special advisor, Michael Hulley, has been involved in ensuring CPS would continue to distribute social grants; and
• Dlamini has failed to answer 93% of parliamentary questions regarding the social grants crisis.
The DA have already written to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request two investigations, one into the relationship between the Minister and CPS as there seems to be a possibility that Dlamini will, in some way, benefit from the CPS contract, and the second to investigate whether Dlamini wilfully mislead Parliament.
It is blatantly obvious that Dlamini is not fit for office and her contempt for the highest court in our country is matched only by her contempt for the most vulnerable people in our country.
The laundry list of failures by Dlamini is vast and it is high time the President puts the interests of the people and their wellbeing first.

ANC U-Turns on Parliamentary investigation into PRASA

The DA is angered by the ANC members of the Portfolio Committee on Transport’s decision to U-Turn on the matter of a parliamentary investigation into the allegations of mismanagement at PRASA.
This is after they only last Wednesday stated their support for a full parliamentary inquiry into the affairs at PRASA.
The DA maintains that a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations of corruption at PRASA will be an important step towards resolving the crisis at the entity and to ensuring that Minister Dipou Peters is held accountable for her hand in this mess.
However, this recent change of heart by the ANC is clearly a politically motivated move in order to protect the Minister and anyone else implicated from accountability.
It is becoming abundantly clear that Minister Peters is intent on exercising political interference over the investigations of corruption at PRASA, and only serves to confirm our suspicions over her dismissal of the PRASA board.
Parastalels have become a dumping ground for ANC cronies to loot the public coffers whilst the poor suffer in silence.
The DA will not stand for yet another state owned entity to be run to the ground and for another Minister to dodge accountability. It is unacceptable that the ANC continues to protect ineffective Ministers.

Mbalula must tell Parliament why R118 million was wasted on Commonwealth bid

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation, Ms Beauty Dlulane, to request that she summon the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula, to appear before Parliament and account for the R 118 million which was wasted during South Africa’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
Minister Mbalula must, therefore, account to Parliament as to why he chose to ignore the very obvious signs that South Africa was simply not financially ready to host this event and provide a detailed breakdown of the costs that were incurred during the bidding process.
Yesterday it was reported that Durban lost the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022. This news also means that the R 118 million that was spent on the bidding process was all in vain.
The DA continuously warned the EThekwini Municipality, Minister Mbalula and SASCOC that the Commonwealth Games were too expensive and that South Africa simply does not have the financial means to host it.
All of these parties should have known that South Africa could not afford to host the Games when South Africa failed to meet several deadlines to present an adequate budget. South Africa was able to spend R 4 billion, which was not nearly enough to host the event.
SASCOC also failed to conduct a proper financial impact assessment to calculate the cost and benefits of Durban hosting the games, meaning that South Africa had no idea what the true financial impact of the games would have been on the country.
The entire bidding process was doomed from the start. South Africa was ill-prepared and underfinanced.
However, the numerous warning that the games would not be financially viable were repeatedly ignored and as such R 118 million of public funds have been wasted.
Millions of young South Africans are desperate to find financial assistance in order to educate themselves. The R 118 million could have been better spent on grass-roots sport development and on building sports fields rather than on a failed bidding process.

DA welcomes withdrawal of the Rome Statute Repeal Bill

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision today by Cabinet to withdraw the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Bill [B 23 – 2016].
The DA believes that in light of the recent High Court decision, and now the decision of Cabinet to withdraw this Bill, that we should all take the opportunity to step back and properly assess the situation.
It may well be that the International Criminal Court (ICC) requires reform and South Africa should actively engage in discussions around such reform.
However this does not mean that South Africa should join the polecats of world in abandoning our commitment to human rights by leaving the ICC entirely.
In recent years, numerous decisions by our ANC-led national government have made clear and dangerous departures from the human-rights based foreign policy which was promoted by Nelson Mandela and which aligns with our Constitutional democracy.
The original decision was made by the ANC in haste and we are glad that sanity has now prevailed.

Newly appointed Inspector General of Intelligence must immediately investigate dodgy D-G

The DA was pleased to learn that President Jacob Zuma finally appointed Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe as the new Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI), ten days after we called on him to hurry up and approve the candidate endorsed by the National Assembly in November 2016.
This brings to an end to an excruciating two year wait to end the vacancy of a position created by section 210(b) of the Constitution and tasked with the oversight of South Africa’s intelligence services.
We now call on Dintwe to immediately prioritise an investigation into the appointment of Arthur Fraser as the Director-General of the State Security Agency in September 2016.
Fraser’s suitability for the position is highly questionable as he frequently courted controversy during his stint as the Deputy Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, the predecessor to the State Security Agency, involving himself in political intrigue and irregularities. In particular, Dintwe must urgently probe Fraser’s involvement in the ‘Principal Agent Network’, a covert project run by the NIA between 2007 and 2010 which was tainted by allegations of misspending and prompted an investigation into fraud and corruption by then-IGI, Faith Radebe.
It beggars belief that Fraser was even considered for the position, never mind being appointed to one of the most powerful positions in the intelligence services. Fraser’s dodgy appointment, along with State Security Minister David Mahlobo’s close relationship with organised crime figures and his strained relationship with the truth, is vast eroding the integrity of our intelligence services.
Dintwe has a duty and responsibility to investigate the growing dysfunction in the intelligence services, which has been operating without civilian oversight for far too long. We hope he has the courage to do this important work.

Esidimeni: DA welcomes Independent Tribunal

The DA welcomes the announcement today by Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, that an Ad Hoc Independent Tribunal will be appointed to process appeals relating to the Health Ombudsman, Dr Malegapuru Makgoba’s, report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of more than a hundred mentally ill patients in Gauteng.
The DA believes that this tribunal, to be headed by retired Judge President of the Gauteng High Court, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, will be an important step towards ensuring that those who are responsible for this tragedy are held to account.
The Esidimeni deaths mark a dark moment in our country’s history and we must ensure that this tragedy is never repeated again.
More than a hundred vulnerable psychiatric patients died from starvation, dehydration and general neglect last year, when the Gauteng Health Department ended its contract with Life Esidimeni and transferred the patients to unregistered NGO’s to save money.
The DA hopes that, above all, justice will prevail for the families and victims that so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.

Commonwealth Games bid wasted millions & should be probed

News that the eThekwini Commonwealth Games bid has collapsed means that millions of rands wasted on the bid have been lost to our poorest communities.
This is a devastating blow to our city, and our people, who can only stand by and watch as millions of rands that could have improved our communities, delivered houses, improved services and created jobs have been wasted by the ANC government. We could not afford the Commonwealth Games from the start, but now good money has been thrown after a bad idea.
Reports this afternoon that as much as R118 million have been wasted to date should anger every citizen of eThekwini, as we know how desperately that money is needed in our City.
The DA has consistently warned of and stood against the waste of millions on this bid, but the ANC government proceeded to bite off more than they could chew.
This is a potent stain on the work of Minister Fikile Mbalula, and the ANC Mayors of EThekwini who have supported the bid. We must not forget that the ANC pushed this plan through.
I will now demand a full-scale investigation by the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) into the total cost wasted by the City of eThekwini through its involvement in the Commonwealth Games bid. The DA expects the MPAC to seriously scrutinise every aspect of this spending as so many millions have gone to waste.
The City of EThekwini has a record of wasting millions on superfluous events, like the Essence Festival, which cost the City millions of rands and yielded absolutely no results.
The people of eThekwini deserve better than the job-killing financial recklessness of the uncaring ANC government.

Interim PRASA Board must confirm all investigations will go ahead

The DA will seek confirmation from the newly appointed Interim PRASA board that all investigations currently under way, including the investigation into over a billion rand in irregular payments in the current financial year, will continue.
Of concern is the fact that Transport Minister, Dipou Peters, has seen fit to appoint Nazir Alli, the man who spent billions of taxpayers’ money on e-tolls in Gauteng, as the interim Chairperson of the board.
Two other members, CEO of the South African Local Government Association, Xolile George, and former General-Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, Frans Baleni, seem to be firmly aligned with President Jacob Zuma.
Equally questionable is the appointment of Peters’ former spokesperson, Tiyani Rikhotso.
Last week, Peters dissolved the Board which the DA held to be too little, too late given the prolonged crisis at the entity and speculation is rife that Peters only did this to avoid accountability for allowing the entity to be mismanaged.
The announcement of the dissolution of the board came at the same time that the Portfolio Committee on Transport decided to launch an inquiry into the gross mismanagement at PRASA.
The DA fully supports this inquiry and will also get clarity on the terms of this inquiry as well as when we can expect it to start in tomorrow’s Portfolio Committee meeting.
It is vital that the current investigations under way into the gross mismanagement of PRASA continue so that any findings can be implemented to ensure the efficient running of the entity.
The DA will continue to push for full accountability of those found to have wasted public funds.

Jobs not Jets: Is the R1.3 billion in the special defence budget for the new luxury jet?

It has come to the DA’s attention that the estimated expenditure increase in the Department of Defence’s budget for 2017/18 is R1.38 billion, almost exactly the same price as the new presidential jet that the Department is allegedly procuring.
Estimated expenditure on the Special Defence Account (SDA), an account which is used for the procurement of weapons and equipment and to cover the costs of covert operations, is expected to increase by R1.53 billion.
In the meantime, the Department expects to cut an estimated 11,581 jobs by 2019/20 to ensure decreased spending on the compensation of employees. We will thus submit further parliamentary questions to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngqakula to ascertain exactly why expenditure on the SDA is being increased.
The possible increase in spending on a new presidential jet comes at a time when South Africa’s defence capabilities are severely hampered by a lack of funding and understaffing.
It is apparently more important to the ANC government to ensure that the President travels in luxury than ensure the safety and security of the country’s citizens.
The DA has been reliably informed that the presidential jet, Inkwazi, is fully operational and has conducted at least 8 eight flights since the beginning of February this year.
This is yet more proof that the ANC’s supposed “radical economic transformation” is not based on providing opportunities for the millions of South Africans that cannot find employment, but rather on ensuring that an elite few benefits from the tax-payers’ money.
If this deal is approved, money that could have been spent on improving the standard of education and skills that young people need to access opportunity will be wasted once again on a President who puts his needs above the peoples.