The ANC government is failing our children, is failing us

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.

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.

DA’s urgent debate on Violence Against Women scheduled for Thursday

The DA welcomes Parliament acceding to our request for an urgent debate of national importance on violence against women, which will go ahead in the National Assembly, on Thursday 01 June 2017.
I publicly call today for Ministers Fikile Mbalula, Susan Shabangu and Michael Masutha to address this debate. Their portfolios of Police, Women and Justice are key to protecting women in South Africa and the people of our country deserve that they come before Parliament and account. They must address the nation on their plans and emergency responses to the spate of violence across our nation.
The scourge of violence against women has been highlighted recently by the string of publicised horrific attacks and murders of Karabo Mokoena, Lerato Moloi, Bongeka Phungula, Popi Qwabe, Courtney Pieters and Sasha Arendse, among many others.
The fact is that violence against women and children occurs on a daily basis, and without focussed government intervention is only increasing.
The ANC government has entirely abandoned its responsibility to make our country safe for women by not properly addressing issues of gender violence and patriarchy. But on Thursday, the Ministers who are mandated to ensure safety and increasing empowerment of women, have a chance to take the nation into their confidence. Ministers Mbalula, Shabangu and Masutha have a lot of answering to do, and the DA fully expects that they will engage this debate with the seriousness it demands.
The fact is that often ANC Ministers also actively contribute to the perpetuation of undermining women, such as the Minister of Women, Susan Shabangu’s, comments that Karabo Mokoena was “weak” and therefore became a victim of abuse which ended in her murder. Worse still was the Minister’s refusal to apologise and retract her statements, but only to clarify them with equally dangerous adjectives.
Mbalula, Shabangu and Masutha need to account to the National Assembly and to the country as to why they have failed on this issue and state what government policies, strategies and programmes are in place to end this suffering. Empty promises and failed plans of action have done nothing to keep our women safe to date.
Thursday’s debate is fundamentally important for addressing the nation on this critical issue. Parliament, and the implicated Ministers in particular, must use this opportunity to seek and implement effective solutions and to rise in defence of women and children who far too often fall victim to violence.

Parliament meeting on violence against women will go ahead after DA request

The DA welcomes the confirmation from Police Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Francois Beukman, that the DA’s request for a joint meeting between the Police, Justice and Women Portfolio Committees to discuss the government’s lack of effective response to gender-based violence and specifically violence against women, will be urgently scheduled at the earliest chance on a platform that will comprehensively cover crime and policing cross-portfolio issues.
The DA welcomes this opportunity for Parliament to probe the absolute neglect of women’s safety by the SAPS, Justice and Women’s departments.
However, before these hearings in Parliament proceed, it is imperative that the Minister of Women, Susan Shabangu, immediately retracts and apologises for her despicable statement on ENCA’s Checkpoint this week about murdered Karabo Mokeona that “Whilst Karabo came across as very strong, she was weak and hence became a victim of abuse.”
These callous comments, made by a Minister who is mandated to advance women’s socio-economic empowerment and promote gender equality, are reprehensible and must be condemned in the strongest terms. No victim of gender violence or domestic violence should be called “weak” by the Minister whose entire portfolio revolves around empowering and protecting vulnerable women.
Shabangu has the opportunity today to retract her careless and shocking remarks and apologise to Karabo Mokoena’s family in her budget speech in Parliament later today. The DA demands that she does so.
If the Minister does not retract and apologise, she will be exposed as nothing more than an uncaring leader undeserving of the office of Minister.
Remarks like this only serve to perpetuate gender-based violence and show how the ANC government do not tackle these issues and have completely failed in their duty to make our country safer for women. Instead the ANC today blames women for the fate they often face in dire circumstances.
This is precisely why a joint platform of the three key portfolios who can address the scourge of violence against women plaguing our nation must go ahead as soon as possible.
The DA will call for the joint convening to hear from society at large and civil society organisations on how the failures of government directly impact the safety of women.
South Africa must rise in defence of women. Enough is enough.