Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on farm murders.
Section 205(3) of our constitution states that “the objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law”. On all of these points, the SAPS is struggling and failing when it comes to crime in rural communities and the safety of farm-dwellers.
This is not because we don’t know what to do to improve safety and security in these communities; rather it is because the police service lacks the right leadership, both political and managerial, to address the problem. The SAPS is the key state institution for ensuring that all people live in safety, free from crime and violence, but is failing in fulfilling that duty due to poor leadership and skewed priorities that undermine the fight against crime on the ground.
The 2016 White Paper on Policing outlines that the police service must be rooted in a community-centred approach, a key demonstration of which is to be responsive to the vulnerabilities and policing needs of local communities. To quote the White Paper: “At local level the SAPS must be equipped to respond to the risks, vulnerabilities and policing needs of the disparate communities it serves.”
This echoes the DA’s longstanding call for the localisation of policing through greater autonomy for police stations. Because crime threats vary drastically from community to community, the SAPS approach of a centralised crime-fighting strategy often undermines the ability of police stations to respond to the very specific needs of their communities.
In this regard, there are multiple instances of SAPS failure to be responsive, both structurally and operationally, to the local policing needs of rural communities. During a visit last month to the town of Belfast in Mpumalanga with my colleague, Honourable Steyn, following another farm attack, we heard from the local councillor about numerous examples of how the SAPS is hopelessly handicapped to do its job:
• In a context where one ward can sometimes be as large as encompassing three towns, one police station has to cover a geographically massive policing precinct, involving long travelling distances, and usually covering multiple settlements.
• Outside of roads between and within towns, most vehicular travel has to be on gravel roads and sometimes on no roads at all. This terrain requires tougher, more agile police vehicles that can take hard knocks and won’t be rendered useless after it rains because they get stuck in mud too easily.
• The under-staffing and inadequate number of police vehicles means that when a suspect in custody has to be transported to another town for a court appearance, normal sector policing operations are deprived of cars and officers for visible patrolling and rapid response.
The SAPS is also missing a huge opportunity in the fight against farm attacks and other rural crimes when it comes to police reservists. The White Paper on Policing is clear that “the effective use of reservists contributes to strengthening policing at station level and the implementation of crime prevention initiatives.”
Currently, the reservist corps has shrunk, is poorly managed and almost impossible to get into due to inexplicably stringent eligibility criteria in the revised regulations. A larger SAPS Reservist Corps would act as a force multiplier to get more boots on the ground for visible patrolling and rapid response, plugging the gaps and helping to spread the workload.
There is no need for the situation to be this bad. This is what the DA would do to improve the safety and security of rural communities and reduce farm attacks:
• Give greater budgetary freedom: Often station commanders are prevented from adapting resource allocation according to their specific needs because of centralised bureaucratic processes. The DA would give more discretionary management authority for these decisions to be localised so that stations could deal with problems more effectively – for example, given that policing precincts usually cover a large area, a station commander would be free to ensure the operation of a larger number and spread of satellite police stations.
• Allow for local sourcing of equipment: Under a DA government, police stations would be allowed to procure equipment and services directly from approved suppliers based on station needs. This means that they would be sure, for example, to get the right kind of vehicles for their context, instead of being subject to decisions from higher up in the hierarchy that are ill-suited for their needs.
It also means that vehicles would not languish at a centralised SAPS Garage for weeks or months on end for repairs and maintenance while vulnerable communities are poorly protected by an under-resourced and under-equipped police service. They could get them attended to at a local mechanic within a shorter turnaround time.
• Boost operational personnel numbers with a strong reservist corps: The DA would ensure rigorous vetting and training, coupled with strong accountability, to ensure that volunteer reservists’ behaviour and conduct is in line with the ethos and expectations of permanent SAPS members.
The DA stands ready to lead a national government that will fix the police service and ensure safety and security for all, particularly rural and farming communities. In order for us, as a nation, to harness the full potential of our people, we need safe homes and safe streets. As the ANC is increasingly paralysed by corruption, cronyism and poor leadership, the DA is becoming the hope of more and more citizens to realise the dream of a country free from fear.
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.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
The English philosopher John Locke, who laid much of the foundation of modern liberal thought wrote that the primary duty of any government was to ensure the security of the nation and the protection of the rights of its citizens. This is how it would care for the people.
In return for the fulfilment of this duty of the government, the people would reciprocate in this social contract by being law-abiding, which would promote a society of harmonious co-existence.
On many fronts of governance and state delivery, the ANC government has failed in fulfilling its duty, showing that it does not care about the people. Whether in the case of the deprivation of the right to life for the victims of the Esidimeni scandal and the Marikana massacre or putting the comfort of the political elite before caring for the needs of the people through indulgent state spending on cushy cars, luxury hotel accommodation and excessive VIP Protection, the ANC has broken the social contract that underpins the relationship between citizens and the government.
This brokenness is starkly evident, and has been for many years, in the area of border security and policing. It is part of a chronic and endemic pattern of ANC misgovernance: from a broken President and Parliament to a broken SABC and society – the ANC breaks almost everything it touches.
As a result of its misgovernance and mismanagement, the ANC has been creating and piling up the dry tinder that we have seen become kindled into bonfires of unrest and xenophobic violence over the years.
The seeds of these xenophobic flare-ups were sown in the inability of the ANC to create jobs for almost 9 million South Africans and also in the mismanagement and ultimate weakening of border security, creating porous and poorly controlled borders that make illegal in-migration virtually impossible to police and curtail.
The cause and manifestation of this border security mismanagement are well-known: under-resourcing, under-staffing, under-equipping, under-training, incompetent leadership and a failure to enforce accountability.
While the stream of illegal immigration over the years has, on one hand, created the context for violent xenophobic outbreaks, the chronic neglect of the police service has, on the other hand, undermined and hollowed out the state’s capacity to forecast and respond adequately to public unrest when it does break out.
In 2008, 2015 and now 2017, the Criminal Intelligence division of the SAPS seemingly never saw the xenophobic violence coming, even though there always seems to be an organised element to these episodes.
When the violence does erupt, the SAPS response is slow and ineffectual and policing capacity is initially too thin on the ground to contain the violence, enabling it to escalate and spread. The reasons for this shoddy state of readiness are the same familiar ones: under-resourcing, under-staffing, under-equipping, under-training and poor leadership.
The DA will fix our broken border security and police service when we come to lead national government because we care.
We will ensure adequate resourcing, staffing, training and equipping. We will boost the frequency and coverage of border patrolling.
We will fix our broken Crime Intelligence so that it can foresee disturbances before they erupt and we will restore Public Order Policing to adequate strength so that it contain unrest before it escalates and spreads.
We will build a caring government that reconnects with the people through a social contract that all citizens can trust and put their confidence in.
After 23 years of failing delivery and corrupt governance, the ANC has broken the trust that it once enjoyed with the people. The people will soon place that trust in another government that deserves it and truly cares for them.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
Thank you Madam Speaker,
The Democratic Alliance condemns any act of xenophobia, along with any form of discrimination.
We support South Africa’s role as a continental leader and stakeholder, and believe that legal immigration can contribute to economic growth, skills development and job creation.
We also believe that the problem of foreign nationals residing in South Africa illegally should be addressed, but in a manner that respects the fundamental human rights and dignity of those immigrants.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisions a prosperous Africa with inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It envisions an integrated continent, a continent that is politically united. It envisions an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
Madam Speaker, our Constitution shares these values and principles. It is stated in the preamble to the Constitution that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. This is an important feature of our Constitution, rightly enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
However, the significant question we have to ask ourselves is this: does the actions of today’s government show that they believe that South Africa truly belongs to all who live in it?
The recent increase of violence against foreign nationals implores us to reflect on this question, and I am afraid that the answer to this question is a resounding NO.
Recent events have clearly shown that South Africa’s foreign relations policy falls short of achieving Afro-optimism and Pan-Africanism.
Our government remains reactive, rather than proactive, in addressing the underlying causes of the growing hostility towards foreigners.
One of the key issues in the hostility towards foreigners is that the ANC government is failing horribly in their mandate to provide jobs for 8.9 million unemployed South Africans and particularly for the lost generation, the millions of young people who have been abandoned by the ANC government.
Madam Speaker, inefficient practices at the Department of Home Affairs is compounding the problem of illegal immigration, as many foreigners wishing to enter the country legally are faced with almost insurmountable bureaucracy.
In many ways, Home Affairs creates illegal immigrants through their own inefficiency. It is also a fact that our borders are too porous, and the government believes that the establishment of a Border Management Authority will solve this problem.
This is yet another example of the ANC trying to legislate their way out of a problem, rather than fixing the existing mechanisms. Not only is the current proposal unconstitutional, it is highly impractical and will only lead to a waste of state funds.
Xenophobia is irrational and immoral and should be rejected by each and every South African. Mutual co-existence and individual legal freedom of movement should be protected as enshrined in our Constitution.
It is worrying that we have a President that only last week said, and I quote, that “we appeal to our people not to allow the actions of a few criminals to turn them against their brothers and sisters who are here legally.”
The President should know that his words carry weight, and that his statement could easily be interpreted as a tactic go –ahead for violent attacks against foreigners who are here illegally. This simply cannot stand.
Madam Speaker, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a massive gap between what the ANC states their foreign policy should be, and what it actually is. For example, by ignoring a high court order to arrest Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, and by unconstitutionally withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ANC government has not supported a human rights based foreign policy.
It is now becoming clear that the ANC also does not respect the promotion of human rights nationally.
As the DA, we implore all South Africans to do what the government has failed to do, and that is show a sense of solidarity to and respect for the dignity of our fellow African brothers and sisters. Xenophobic violence is never acceptable.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Minister in the Presidency, Sejamothopo Motau MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
There is no doubt in my mind that all the good people of South Africa cherish the promotion of harmonious co-existence and respect for the rights of all persons, including foreign nationals.
This is the case because we want to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights for all who live in the country.
A country that is peaceful and crime-free.
Sadly, we seem to be failing in our noble national mission. As matters stand, this country seems more divided and violent than at any time since 1994.
Xenophobia, homophobia, racism and religious intolerance, bedevil the social fabric of our nation.
This, despite the fact that that the Presidency is mandated to lead the agenda and discourse on nation building, social cohesion and national identity facilitated through the Moral Regeneration Movement and its charter of positive values.
What positive results can we show for the millions of Rand appropriated for this purpose every year?
The simple answer is: Very little, if anything. Political correctness and expediency seem to be the major culprits responsible for this dismal performance.
Following the recent xenophobic violence in the Tshwane area, DA Leader Mmusi Maimane made the following plea: “The DA strongly condemns xenophobia and xenophobic violence and we urge all South Africans to do the same. The hatred and intolerance towards foreign African nationals that has flared up in areas of Gauteng is morally contemptible and self- defeating.”
To defeat this scourge, we need to get to the root causes of the problem and eradicate them. Political correctness will not get us anywhere, as experience has shown.
While irrationality can be blamed for some xenophobic behaviour, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there are some objective factors that generate resentment among both South Africans and immigrants that serve as triggers for violence.
For instance, there are growing grumblings amongst South Africans in the townships that foreign nationals put severe strain on amenities and services such as public schools, clinics, hospitals and housing. Scrambling for jobs also always comes up as a big factor.
With 9 million jobless and 17 million people on social grants this is hardly surprising.
The very weak economic growth in the country is not helping. The economy needs to grow by at least 5 percent or more a year, as envisaged by the National Development Plan, to create millions of jobs.
Most people who have a job, hardly ever worry about who is in the country.
Let me defer to the DA Leader again: “The DA’s position is that anyone who meets the legal criteria; is prepared to play by the rules of our Constitution, and who seeks a better life for themselves, should be welcome in South Africa.”
These factors – real or imagined – must be confronted head-on and addressed as they will not go away of themselves. We dare not shy away from them.
Following the xenophobic violence in 2008 and 2015, Parliament appointed Ad Hoc Joint Committees to probe the causes of the violence against foreign nationals.
These committees, constituted at some significant cost, completed their assignments and made recommendations to Parliament regarding the actions to be taken to address the scourge.
These recommendations included that:
- The Department of Home Affairs prioritise issuing foreign nationals with correct documentation, maintain adequate records and root out corruption;
- That the Portfolio Committees on Safety and Security establish the ability of crime combating units to stem future attacks and for police response to violent situations in general; and
- That the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development monitor Special Courts progress in processing cases of violence against foreign nationals.
Very little seems to have been done regarding the implementation of these recommendations. As a member of this House who served on the 2015 Ad Hoc Joint Committee, I have no idea as to what has come of the recommendations.
The DA calls on this Parliament to institute an urgent review of the recommendations made in 2008 and 2015; establish which have been implemented and facilitate the implementation of those outstanding – as a matter of urgency.
The DA believes that recent incidents of xenophobic violence and anti-foreigner sentiments are a consequence of the failure of the ANC Government to implement the recommendations set out in the 2008 and 2015 reports – adopted by Parliament – of the Ad Hoc Joint Committees on Probing Violence against Foreign Nationals.
There is no more time to lose. Failure to implement frustrates any effort to promote social cohesion and harmonious co-existence among the people who live in the country.