The following remarks were made today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a public meeting in Kleinvlei, Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Western Cape Premier Candidate, Alan Winde, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Women, Nomafrench Mbombo.
Fellow South Africans,
I want to start off by strongly condemning the xenophobic attacks that are taking place in KZN and other parts of our country. Violence must have no place in our society. Not against fellow South Africans, and not against our brothers and sisters from other African nations.
Our stagnant economy has left many South Africans angry, fearful and frustrated, but innocent, law-abiding foreign nationals who play be our rules should never pay the price for bad government that is holding South Africa back.
It is always the innocent who suffer most. I know the price that communities like yours have had to pay because of gangs and drugs.
I know the heartbreak so many families have already had to endure at the hands of criminals who have taken over their neighbourhoods and terrorised their children. I know what the killings, the violence and the drug addiction does to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. And I know it is so often the innocent who pay the price.
I have just spoken this morning to a family whose lives have been ripped apart by the senseless murder of their young son by gangsters here. He had nothing to do with their gang. He had no part in their life of violence and crime. And yet he was brutally murdered by them.
This is the worst nightmare for any mother or father – to learn that their child lost his life so young, and for nothing, at the hands of thugs who don’t follow rules or fear the law.
And something like this happens every single day in communities across the Western Cape. Last year 808 people lost their lives in this province to gang-related murders.
Cape Town and the Western Cape are under siege from gangs, and yet the ANC government just looks the other way. It simply does not care. National government controls all aspects of SAPS – all station resourcing, all appointments, all police officer allocation and all specialised units – but they have just washed their hands of the gang and drug violence in this province.
They sit up in Gauteng, miles from the lived reality of the people who are under daily attack here, and they make terrible decisions that have a profound effect on your lives.
The DA has been asking for years for a fair allocation of police officers to gang and drug-ridden communities in the province, but still the ANC government turns a blind eye and continues to under-resource these areas.
The DA has been asking for years for the reintroduction of the specialised narcotics and gang units, which the ANC themselves disbanded. Don’t be fooled by their recent announcement of new specialised units. No new police officers have been appointed. They simply pulled officers from somewhere else, leaving a hole there. This was done just for show, ahead of the May election.
This is simply not good enough. The people of the Western Cape should not be made to suffer at the hands of a national government that cannot and will not keep them safe.
I am here today to tell you: enough is enough. You shouldn’t have to put up with gangsters and drug dealers in your neighbourhood, in your streets and outside your schools.
You shouldn’t have to hide in your homes and pray that these thugs pass you by. You shouldn’t have to fear the bullets of their crossfire, or fear your children being recruited into their gangs or sold their drugs.
This is your community, not theirs. If anyone should be running and hiding, it is the gangsters.
Fellow South Africans, in communities such as this one, we all know that it is the women and the children and the most vulnerable in our society who are impacted most. And often, the communities know exactly who the criminals are, but they are too scared to come forward, because they don’t have a policing system that will work with them.
Communities need to be able to partner with the police effectively. This is the only way we can stop criminals. Together we can beat them. Together we can fight for your right to live safe and peaceful lives here in Kleinvlei, and in all communities across this province.
The Cape Town Metro Police partnered effectively with the community to bring down crime levels in the inner city by 90%. I say it again, we can only do this together. That’s why the DA believes passionately that we need to decentralise policing powers.
The DA will continue to fight for a Provincial Police Service, so that decisions that affect the safety of communities in this province can be made right here in the Western Cape
We will continue to fight for the introduction of proper, well-resourced specialised narcotics and gang units here in the Western Cape, and not just pre-election window dressing.
We will continue to fight for a fair allocation of officers and other resources to the police stations in these gang-ridden areas.
But the biggest difference we can make is in national government. Because that is where we will be able to shape the policy to make every community in South Africa safe from criminals.
We know that SAPS is currently severely under-trained, under-staffed, under-resourced and under-equipped. Our plan will address all of these critical issues. A DA national government will completely transform SAPS into an honest and professional service, staffed only by those committed to serve and protect.
We will appoint only the best, fit-for-purpose people to positions of leadership. The days of deployed cadres in SAPS whose only loyalty is to the ANC will be gone for good.
We will actively recruit police officers with a passion for policing, and we will ensure that all new recruits undergo extensive training. Where necessary, we will retrain officers and we will increase the number of specialist officers and detectives.
Provinces with a proven capability will be allowed to take on the responsibility of managing policing in that province.
We will immediately slash the budget for VIP protection services, and shift this money to the protection of people like you in communities such as this.
We will institute a semi-independent drug-busting force within SAPS which can target gangs and drug-related crimes, and we will create specialised units aimed specifically at things like rural safety, sexual offenses, organised crime and missing persons.
A DA government will ensure that law and order is maintained in our communities, and we will do so by seeing to it that effective arrests are followed by effective prosecutions and convictions.
This is the safe and peaceful South Africa that I want to build. And to do so, I am going to need your help.
Together we need to fire the government that has abandoned you and left you at the mercy of gangsters. In its place we need to install a government with both the will and the plan to keep you safe in your homes, and to keep gangsters in jail, where they belong.
We can’t have parents burying their sons and daughters. We can’t have young children, not even teenagers yet, lured to the life of a gangster. We can’t have deadly drugs flooding our streets and our schools. That is not the South Africa of our dreams.
Let us stand up as one and say: No more! These street belong to the people of this community, and not the criminals. If the ANC government can’t keep you safe, you need to vote for a government that will.
In next month’s elections you can either choose five more years under this failed ANC government, or you can choose a South Africa under a DA-led government where your children have a future, and where you can reclaim your streets from the gangsters and drug dealers.
Join me on 8 May as we choose to build one safe and prosperous South Africa for all.